Meltdowns are a part of tennis, but foot-fault calls – especially on crucial points – seem to drive players over the edge.
Battered and reeling in a match against Kim Clijsters, Williams was called for a foot fault on a second serve at 15-30, 5-6 in the second set. The call gave Clijsters two match points, and so incensed Williams that she began a tirade worthy of tennis's four-letter king, John McEnroe.
(Do you remember: "You cannot be serious!")
Approaching the lineswoman who made the call, shaking her racket and pointing, Williams said: "I'm going to shove this [expletive] ball down your [expletive] throat," according to CBSsports.com.
(See a video of the entire incident here.)
Having already received a conduct warning for throwing her racket in the first set, Williams was docked a point for her outburst. At 15-40, that was match point, and Serena lost the match – 6-4, 7-5 – without hitting another ball.
Tantrums are a part of tennis. But the foot-fault tantrum appears to have a special place in the tennis world.
Perhaps this is because the rule is so inconsistently enforced. A player must not touch any part of the service line during a serve, yet line judges often ignore infractions.
What's more, some players say there is an unwritten rule that – just as hockey referees call nothing but the most blatant penalties in overtime playoff games – tennis officials should ignore seemingly ticky-tack infractions like foot faults when stakes are high.